20 September, 2017

Muslims in the European Union – Latest survey

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Category: European Action Day, European Union, Islamophobia, Muslim people, Religious Intolerance, Report, Uncategorized
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fra1Based on the Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, Muslims – Selected findings publication of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is publishing on 21 September the Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II): Muslims – selected findings report.

musl2Muslims are the second largest religious group in the European Union. The survey was based on face-to-face interviews in 2016 with over 25,000 people from different immigrant and ethnic minority groups in all 28 EU Member States. Of these, over 10,500 were people who self-identified as Muslim when asked about their religion. Respondents were asked about their experiences of discrimination, crime victimisation (including hate crime), profiling and policing as well as rights awareness. They were also asked for information about civic and political participation, their personal situation and living conditions, as well as basic socio-demographic characteristics.

muslThe results shows that the overwhelming majority of Muslim immigrants in the EU and their EU-born children have a high sense of trust in democratic institutions despite experiencing widespread discrimination and harassment.

The report shows that:

  • 76% of Muslim respondents feel strongly attached to the country they live in;
  • 31% of those seeking work said that they experienced discrimination over the last five years;
  • 42% of respondents who had been stopped by the police during the last year said this happened because of the migrant or ethnic minority background.

The report suggests a number of solutions, including:

  • Effective sanctions for violations of anti-discrimination legislation;
  • Reinforcement of trust in the police through targeted outreach activities;
  • Greater efforts to increase the participation of Muslims in decision-making processes.

Some more important findings:

Do Muslims have a strong sense of belonging to their communities?

  • 76% of Muslim respondents feel strongly attached to their country of residence.
  • 53% are citizens of their country of residence enjoying the full set of rights for nationals and EU citizens. However, 15% either have a residence permit for less than five years or no permit.
  • Muslim respondents’ trust in public institutions is higher than the trust among the general population. On average, they have the highest trust in the police and the legal system, followed by the national parliament.
  • Muslim respondents are generally open towards other people. For example, 92% said they are comfortable with neighbours of a different religious background.
  • 48% indicate they would feel ‘totally comfortable’ with a family member marrying a non-Muslim person.
  • However, respondents who have been victims of discrimination, harassment or violence because of their ethnic or immigrant background are considerably less attached to the survey country than those who have not.

To what extent do Muslims suffer discrimination?

  • 39% felt discriminated against in the five years before the survey because of their ethnic or immigrant background in one or more areas of daily life – employment, education, housing, healthcare and when using public or private services.
  • Those who felt discriminated against indicate that this happened, on average, at least five times a year, which shows that discrimination is a recurring experience.
  • 53% of those who looked for housing and 44% of those who looked for work felt that they had been discriminated against because of their first or last names.
  • 43% of those at work or 46% who were receiving healthcare felt discriminated against because of their skin colour or physical appearance.

Does traditional / religious clothing affect how Muslims are treated?

  • 35% of Muslim women who had felt discriminated against because of their ethnic or immigrant background when looking for work say it was because of way they dress.
  • 39% of Muslim women who wear a headscarf or niqab in public were harassed, compared to 23% of women who do not.
  • For men who at least sometimes wear traditional or religious clothing and were stopped by the police, 47% thought that they had been stopped because of their clothing.

How well do Muslims know their rights?

  • 31% do not know that they have, and can claim, a legal right to non-discrimination
  • 72% did not know any organisations offering support to victims of discrimination. 65% did not recognise any of the equality bodies in their country.
  • Only 4% of respondents who reported discrimination filed a complaint or reported the incident to one of their national Equality Bodies.

To what extent are Muslims victims of hate crime?

  • 27% of Muslim respondents were harassed because of their ethnic or immigrant background in the year before the survey.
  • 45% of the harassment victims experienced six or more incidents of harassment, which they felt were motivated by their ethnic or immigrant background, in the year before the survey.
  • Overall, 27% of Muslim respondents know of a family member or friend who was, in the year before the survey, insulted or called names because of their ethnic or immigrant background.

 Do Muslims report incidents of discrimination, violence or harassment?

  • 12% of Muslim respondents who felt discriminated against reported the incident.
  • 9% reported hate-motivated harassment to a relevant authority or service.
  • 23% reported hate crime attacks to the police or other organisation.
  • This is consistent with findings of other victimisation surveys. FRA’s research has consistently shown that victims of hate crime – LGBTI people, Jews, women who have been victims of gender-based violence – are often reluctant to report incidents to the police.

 Are they any notable differences between Muslim groups?

  • Respondents from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa report the highest levels of discrimination based on ethnic or immigrant background (46% and 45% in the five years before the survey, respectively).
  • Substantial differences in experiences of discrimination can be found between Muslims from certain countries and regions, and living in particular EU Member States. For example, Muslim respondents from North Africa are more likely to feel discriminated against in the Netherlands (49%), Italy (33%) and France (31%), and least likely so in Spain (20%). Comparing different groups within one country, the most striking difference was in Germany where 18% of Muslim respondents from Turkey felt discriminated against in the preceding 12 months, in contrast to 50% of those from Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Harassment due to their ethnic or immigrant background at least once in the 12 months before the survey ranges from almost half of all Muslim respondents from Sub-Saharan Africa in Germany (48%) and Finland (45%), to 13% to 14% of Muslim respondents from Sub-Saharan Africa in the United Kingdom and Malta, respectively.

 How are Muslims treated by the police?

  • 16% of Muslim respondents were stopped by the police in the year before the survey.
  • Of those who had been stopped, 42% believe it was because of their immigrant or ethnic minority background.
  • Muslim respondents from North and Sub-Saharan Africa indicate being stopped by the police more frequently than other Muslim groups surveyed.
  • Police appear to stop Muslim men (45%) more often than Muslim women (12%).
  • 60% of Muslim respondents who were stopped by the police during the past five years before the survey, say that they were treated respectfully.
  • 81% who reported a physical assault to the police were dissatisfied with the police’s handling of the matter.

 How do these findings compare with the earlier surveys?

  • The findings show that many Muslims continue to face discrimination.
  • Some 17% of Muslim respondents indicate having felt discriminated against on grounds of religion or religious belief in the five years before the survey, compared with 10% in EU-MIDIS I in 2008.
  • Both surveys found that Muslim respondents from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa experience the highest levels of discrimination.
  • Non-reporting of discrimination and a lack of awareness of organisations to turn to also remain issues.

What can be done to improve the situation?

  • Taking legal action to combat ethnic and religious discrimination and hate crime in all areas of life such as employment, housing and healthcare.
  • Supporting outreach activities to work with Muslim communities to, for example reinforce trust in the police, and to better address the needs of Muslim victims of hate crime, particularly women.
  • Further strengthening Muslims’ sense of belonging by actively involving them in consultations and decision making, and by bringing local communities closer through sports and housing associations etc.
  • Strengthen equality bodies and raise awareness of anti-discrimination laws and redress possibilities, targeting particularly groups more likely to be victims of discrimination, such as Muslims.
  • Address the issue of discriminatory stops on Muslims to foster trust in law enforcement through Police training, together with community policing.



The full report is available here.

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